At the beginning of this new year, millions of us will have made resolutions to help make a positive change in our lives. For many, these will include exercising more, losing weight or eating more healthily. Although a lot of us will start the year with the hope of change, the NHS calculates that only 1 in 10 of us will stick to our resolutions and suggest that we could be setting ourselves up to fail by trying to change our lifestyles too radically.
The Telegraph identifies the biggest mistake that many of us make: knowing what we want to achieve but not thinking about how we’re going to do it. They report that people who develop action plans experience less anxiety, more confidence and improved concentration.
Find below some useful tips that may help you to be successful with your resolutions:
Don’t set too many goals
Many of us could be creating too much resistance by setting too many resolutions in our minds. By trying to do everything at once, we could end up feeling drained of willpower. Our goals need to be specific as this could help to give us a clear focus on what needs to be done to reach our targets. Giving our goals figures or timescales could help to define them and push us to work towards achievement.
Between a third and half of our behaviour is habitual, but our habits could be compromising our resolutions. The Independent recommend prioritising our goals and focusing on one behaviour. They advise that the best approach is to make small, incremental changes that replace the habit with a behaviour that supplies a similar reward.
Write them down
Putting our goals down onto paper may help us bring clarity to what we want in our resolutions. Writing them down could help us to be more committed to achieving our targets and to keep them in the front of our minds. Putting reminders up in places that can be seen easily (e.g. fridge, front door, bathroom sink) could help us to stay motivated to reach our goals.
The Guardian suggests making a plan to help us be successful in our resolutions, as it could help our brains to create a map on how we will achieve our targets. Writing down our goals could help us track our progress and identify what is/isn’t working on our journey.
If we start to feel negative and self-critical when we have setbacks, we could cause ourselves to have a lack of willpower by being emotionally charged. Attaching pleasure to our resolutions could help us stick to them. By rewarding ourselves or receiving praise we could remain motivated to complete something we may be struggling with.
If we have a setback, it is worth trying to learn from the situation to help us not to make the same mistake twice. Anticipating lapses and planning for them could cause us to be kinder to ourselves and allow us to move on from them. Maintaining a positive mindset and being resilient to setbacks could also help us remain motivated.
Make SMART Goals
The Independent recommends following the rules of SMART goals to help us set new year’s resolutions that can be achievable, so we should ask ourselves:
S: Are they specific? By having specific goals, we get a clearer aim which can prevent us from finding loopholes. A good example would be ‘I want to lose 6 pounds by April’, whereas a bad example would be ‘I want to lose weight this year’.
M: Can they be measured? Resolutions should be measurable so that we can track our progress to see if we have fulfilled them. This could help keeping us motivated as we will be able to see how far we’d come.
A: Are they achievable? Our goals should have the balance of challenge and achievability. Ideally our resolutions should be hard enough to achieve to keep us motivated, but not too hard to become overwhelming.
R: Are they realistic? We need to make sure that our goals can be achieved realistically in a specific time frame, but remember to factor in setbacks. (e.g. I want to fit into my old jeans by 1st June).
T: Are they time-sensitive? We should specify the time frame for achieving our goals (e.g. I would like to save £1,500 by end of June).
By following the SMART goal structure and remembering that real change takes time, effort and patience, we can be successful with this year’s goals. A setback doesn’t have to be a failure, it can be a chance to learn from our experiences and start again.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.